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Satyajuga Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd. Vs. Bhupati Chatterjee - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberA.F.O.O. No. 255 of 1954
Judge
Reported inAIR1956Cal604
ActsWorkmens's Compensation Act, 1923 - Sections 3, 10 and 10(1)
AppellantSatyajuga Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd.
RespondentBhupati Chatterjee
Appellant AdvocateBijan Behari Das Gupta, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateNalini Kanta Mukherjee, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
- .....31-8-1953, when the establishment was closed down. during this period the respondent was given light work, but he was allowed to draw his full pay. the accident as i have already stated, happened on 19-7-1951, but the application for compensation was not made till 13-10-1953. in view of those dates, it has been contended that the respondent's application was liable to be thrown out as time-barred, inasmuch as the had not preferred his claim within one year of the occurrence of the accident and had no sufficient cause for not doing so. 4. the same point was taken before the learned commisisoner, but was overruled. in the learned commissioner's view, sufficient cause for not making the application earlier existed. i find myself in entire agreement with that view. as i have.....
Judgment:

Chakravartti, C.J.

1. This is an employer's appeal against a decision by the Commissioner, Workmen's Compensation, by which he awarded a sum of Rs. 1680/- to the respondent workman on the ground of his having suffered a permanent and partial disability in the course of his employment under the appellant. Only two grounds have been urged by Mr. Das Gupta in support of the appeal. He has contended that the respondent's claim was barred by limitation and in the second place that, in any event, the employer should have been given credit for the full salary which he had paid to the respondent even after the disability had occurred and his capacity for full service been reduced.

2. The facts are not in dispute. The respondent, Bhupati Chatterjee, was employed as a machineman under the appellant, the Proprietor of the Satyajuga Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd., who used to publish a newspaper and maintain a printing establishment. On 19-7-1951, the respondent's right hand got caught in the printing machine and as a result of that accident, he suffered an injury. The hand was examined by a doctor on behalf of the appellant and another doctor on behalf of the respondent himself. It appears that the fingers of the hand are now in a flexed condition owing to an injury suffered by the tendons and nerves. The thumb, the index finger and the middle finger have lost their functional power. Movements at the wrist are painful and the grip is imperfect and deficient. Both doctors have agreed that the respondent has suffered a permanent and partial disability, but while the respondent's doctor put the measure of disability at fifty per cent., the appellant's doctor put it at forty percent. The learned Commissioner has adopted the estimate of the appellant's doctor and consequently the appellant can have no grievance on that score.

3. What, however, is said on behalf of the appellant is this. After he had suffered the accident, the respondent was absent for some time, but then he returned to work and continued to serve the appellant till 31-8-1953, when the establishment was closed down. During this period the respondent was given light work, but he was allowed to draw his full pay. The accident as I have already stated, happened on 19-7-1951, but the application for compensation was not made till 13-10-1953. In view of those dates, it has been contended that the respondent's application was liable to be thrown out as time-barred, inasmuch as the had not preferred his claim within one year of the occurrence of the accident and had no sufficient cause for not doing so.

4. The same point was taken before the learned Commisisoner, but was overruled. In the learned Commissioner's view, sufficient cause for not making the application earlier existed. I find myself in entire agreement with that view. As I have alreadystated, according to the report of the appellant's own doctor, the respondent's capacity for work had been reduced by forty per cent. In spite of that reduction which was obviously recognised by the appellant, because the respondent was given light work, the appellant continued to pay him his salary at the old scale. The position, therefore, was that although the respondent was no longer able to put in the same outturn of work or work of the same quality, the appellant made no reduction in his salary, but continued to pay him as if he was still rendering full service. The only construction one can put on such conduct of the appellant is that he was in fact paying compensation to the respondent on account of his disability, because without getting the full amount of work from him or work of the old quality, he was not making any deduction from the respondent's pay, but was paying him as if he was still rendering work of the quantity and quality which he would have been capable of doing, if the disability had not occurred. In those circumstances, since the respondent found that his employer was already paying him compensation, he could have no cause for either incurring expenditure or causing unpleasantness between his employer and himself by rushing to the compensation Court for no practical reason whatever. When, however, the appellant's establishment was closed down, the respondent was at last thrown on his own resources and then, for the first time, he found that his disability was weighing against him. In my view, it was then for the first time that occasion arose for the respondent to make an application for obtaining from the appellant compensation for the loss of earning which the disability, suffered during the employment under the appellant, was going to cause. As the appellant's establishment was closed down on 31-8-1953, the occasion for making the application did not arise earlier. The application was made on the 13th of October following. In my view, it was plainly not barred by time.

5. Mr. Das Gupta contended that before one could hold that the appellant was virtually paying compensation to the respondent by paying him his full pay in spite of the disability, it would have to be established that the work which the respondent had been doing after the disability had occurred was, in fact, work less valuable to the appellant. We were reminded that all that the respondent had proved was that he had been given light work. Mr. Das Gupta's criticism was that merely to say that light work had been assigned to the respondent and that he had done only such work could not be sufficient, but the respondent was further required to prove what the nature of the work was, in order that it could be seen whether the appellant was still receiving from him equally valuable service or whether the service had deteriorated, either in quantity or quality. I am not prepared to accept that contention. In my view, if the appellant had the plea of limitation in mind, he should have proved, after the respondent had said that he had been given only light work, either that light work had not in fact been given or that the work, though light, was equally or even more valuable to the respondent. I do not think that after the respondent had proved that he had been given light work, any further onus lying on him remained undischarged.

6. It was also contended by Mr. Das Gupta in aid of his client's plea of limitation that if paymentof the full salary was to be counted against his client as a payment comprising within it a certain amountpaid as compensation, it had to be proved that he had made the payment with knowledge of the disability. It appears to me that this contention can be met by two answers. One is that the appellant knew of the accident and indeed because he knew of it, no actual notice of the accident was given. In the second place, the very fact that the appellant gave the respondent light work indicates that he knew that the respondent was no longer capable of doing the heavy work which it had been previously his duty to do. In my view, the plea of limitation must fail.

7. The second contention was that, in any event, the appellant should have been given credit for the difference between the full pay and the pay to which the respondent would be entitled on the actual work done by him, if the amount of such difference was paid as compensation. I do not think that this contention is tenable. The Act lays down the principles on which the compensation is to be computed after a claim has been established. The compensation is for loss of earning and the loss of earning has reference to futurity. When the compensation Court awards compensation to a workman on the ground of partial or complete disability, it does so on the basis that, in future, that is to say, future as regarded from the time when the order is made, the workman would not be in a position to earn at the old rate or earn anything at all. A period during which a loss of earning was not actually suffered does not come into the picture at all, but, as I have said, quite apart from the merits, the Act lays down both the principles and the rates at which the compensation shall be computed and there is no reason why those should be departed from.

8. Both the grounds urged by Mr. Das Gupta fail. The appeal is accordingly dismissed with costs -- the hearing-fee being assessed at three gold mohurs.

The stay order will stand automatically vacated.

Lahiri, J.

9. I agree.


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